Hot! The “Hawaii Van Gogh” Pants


The Facts
Rayon challis
Pattern: McCall’s 6514
Year: Contemporary
Notions: Interfacing, 1″ elastic
Time to complete: 36 hours
First worn: At a local lakefront spot
Wear again? Most definitely.
Total Price: $12


To carry on the cringe-busting momentum I picked up from last week’s refashion challenge — where I came and conquered inseam pockets — for this week’s Art Challenge, I ventured down the long, dark alley of pants fitting. All while paying an offbeat homage to my favorite painter, Van Gogh.

My affection for Van Gogh started when I saw his work hanging on the walls of his museum in Amsterdam during my honeymoon to the beautiful city. Post-nuptial bliss probably had something to do with it, but I think me and Van Gogh’s mutual love for yellow and sunflowers is what made me a forever fan. The color scheme of the painting below is what inspired my creation this week, the “Hawaii Van Gogh” pants.

Interesting fact: This painting is worth $50 million and was stolen from a Cairo museum a couple of years ago.

Van Gogh Poppy Flowers Painting

The floral print fabric I used is actually a part of a collection made by Freespirit called “Van Gogh Rayon Challis” and whispered my name when I saw it (Van Gogh-inspired AND rayon…too good to be true) even though it only has a vague resemblance to the painter’s style. I didn’t realize it would look so tropical in real life and vowed to order swatches of too-good-to-be-true prints in the future. I do dig it though. Even decided its best to plan a luau around these pants. One that Don Ho and Steve McGarrett would be proud to attend.

It took three muslins to get the fit right on these pants, but as usual, my quest for proper fit is a relentless one. So, I cared not that I’d be late posting this week. I now have a current set of measurements for my bottom half and have refreshed my understanding of design ease vs. wearing ease. With my proportions, these are concepts I can’t ignore.

Since this is only my second pair of pants (the first I made five years ago), I chose a pattern with a simple style and construction steps (no closures, just an elastic-back waist for pull-on action). Assembling the five pattern pieces was a breeze. Much like the one waving my pants around like a flag in these photos.

I love how how things turned out and plan to make these pants (including the wider legged version) again and again. Especially now that I solved the wedgie situation that was going on with my first and second muslin attempts.

There you have it. I survived (just barely) another round of marathon sewing. Though, I may have to sit out next week’s challenge so I can pay a little attention to my life. I haven’t touched the vacuum cleaner in over a month and we’re on our fourth night of carry out dinner. It’s probably time to back away from the sewing machine long enough to tidy up my crib and cook a decent meal.

If you see me here next week, you’ll know I’m full of s**t ;-).

Thanks for looking.



Najah Carroll is a project manager by day and seamstress by night. Once it became clear that ready-to-wear was never gonna support her five feet of curves, she taught herself to sew and make pattern alterations. In January, she lost her mind by signing up for this 52-week garment sewing challenge.


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  1. Isn’t the museum in Amsterdam amazing? I went many years ago and hope to hit it again on a stopover to our Christmas with family in northern Germany this year. Congratulations on three muslins and some awesome pants! Wish I could come to your luau.

    • We spent hours in the Van Gogh museum. And, yes, it IS amazing. Amsterdam was amazing. As for my luau (damn, every time I try to spell it, it feels wrong), it will be a miracle if I ever have time to plan and host one…I’ve been spending all of partying time sewing -as evident by my late replies to this post. Well, sewing is kind of a party, so maybe I’ve been killing two birds with one needle ;-).

  2. Those are some pretty cha-cha pants…and you HAVE to be back next week! I think my vacuum is starting to rust : ) I understand your curves dilemma but isn’t it nice when stuff FITS? Good job persevering, it’s all worth it in the end.

    • It is so very nice when stuff fits. It would be so cool to get that on my tomb stone: HER STUFF FIT. Thanks for the encouragement!

  3. Oh say it isn’t sew! You can’t sit out next week, you’ll be green with envy, promise. I love the pants and the how fabulous they fit. I’m lucky to live in NYC, the Met has a fabulous collection of Vincent’s work and I think he would have admired your love of sunflowers.

    • Poor Vince…wish his fame wasn’t all posthumus, but I am glad that yellow and sunflowers cheered up his sad, sad soul. They do the same for me…I mean, who wouldn’t be in a good mood wearing these pants.

  4. Najah–these are awesome! There’s a Van Gogh exhibit currently at the PMA here in Philly that the boy and I are going to see! I wish I had your pants to wear to it…

    • If you wore these pants to an exhibit, you (and your butt) would be a part of the collection! But, hey..maybe that’s the whole idea. I think you may be on to something. Admiring art while wearing art. Hm…

  5. I like it! The pun-tastic title and your project are both wonderful!

    • I’m glad someone caught the pun in my title…wasn’t sure if it would come across. After all, how many people have actually seen an episode of Hawaii 5-0? I remember watching it on syndication in 80’s and 90’s but after re-watching (well, mostly laughing and tolerating) an episode on NetFlix, I know now why there aren’t many die hard fans. The late sixties/early 70’s were an odd, odd time for television.

  6. Najah, brilliant interpretation of this beautiful Van Gogh painting, and the fit of your pants after doing three muslins paid off they look look spot-on. Awesome work and your photos are just gorgeous. I know what you mean when you say ‘get back to life’. I’ve spent the last two days cleaning fabric scraps from my floor and constantly picking thread from my kiddies hair. Hence my lack of time to comment. It’s hectic. Great job indeedy.

    • Thanks, Kazz! Mi vida loca. Definitely. Yeah, three muslins wore me out and slowed me down, but you’re right the pants ARE worth it. I’m itching to make another pair.

  7. It looks like several of us used Vincent as our inspiration and rightly so. He’s so ingenious. I like your fabric choice and the pants are so cool! I’ve got to try a style like that. I can relate to the housecleaning while sewing. It’s hard! My hubbie does a lot, but I feel guilty focusing so much on my art. I will miss seeing you in green, if you skip next week. Hope you can squeeze it in?

    • My husband’s been Mr. Mom all year and I love him for it. Though, there’s just some jobs only the woman of the house can do right….with all my sewing, those jobs have been neglected. And, yes, I noticed that so many of us were inspired Van Gogh…his use of color, I think, has mass appeal.

  8. Awesome! They capture they tone of the painting very well. You are so fearless with your sewing! I don’t think I’m quite ready to try sewing pants in one week. I almost bought that pattern and that fabric!! Great sewing minds think alike!

    • Go to my blog (see the ‘three muslins to get the fit right” hyperlink above), check out the measurement chart I posted, buy M6514 pattern (like you almost did), measure yourself vs. the pattern pieces, and make one muslin. I bet you’ll have success, if not near-success. If I’m wrong, there’s no harm done and only little time wasted. But, if I’m right…you may be the winner of a custom pair of pants-in-a-week.

      And, thank you for your compliment. I’ve been cowardly about sewing for too long…intimidated by all of my unavoidable alterations…but these challenges and this supportive crew have increased by bravery tenfold.

  9. What beautiful pants! I like the comments on your blog about the assistance from your hubby with the muslin – I too enlisted my boyfriend’s help on a pants muslin that I was ready to give up on, and it paid off. Your final fit is great – they hang straight, and complement your figure – great job!

    • Thank you for your compliment and fit appreciation, Paula.

      Men’s brains are remarkable for troubleshooting. And, they love to rescue a damsel in distress…that was me with these pants for a while. Yep, my man saved me from over/under thinking. I’m very lucky that he’s interested enough to support my obsessive sewing ventures.

  10. When I first saw the side view picture I though, ‘what a great skirt’, then I was all like, ‘what the what!??!’ PANTS! Love them and I want my own as well! :)

  11. Oh I love floral trousers (pants in English!). I haven’t got any at the moment but I’m inspired to make some of my own now.

  12. Phew, after three muslins I think I’d need a break too! What dedication! They were definately worth it – these pants look fantastic! We’ll miss you this week but, will be looking forward to what you make next :-)

  13. Najah how do you come up with the best names for your pieces? I love your pants and the fabric is beautiful. I will miss seeing your work next week but totally understand. I may have to sit out next week’s challenge myself because of a Spring event I’m co-hosting. We’ll see.

    • You know, I must admit that my knack for interesting garment names came from being a nerd in high school (well, I still am a nerd, but in high school it was much more evident). I was the Headline Editor of the yearbook. It was my job to come up with the titles for the Yearbook page layouts. Campy illiterations, pop culture sayings, phrases embedded with puns…all my job to invent. I still have my yearbooks, too. Turned out to be a useful skill at work…my emails always get read…likely because of their inticing subject lines ;-)